I'm a serial renter

Last updated 05:00 13/06/2014

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Since I left home I have lived in 10 rentals, including my current one. I have never owned my own home, and, into my mid 30s, I'd say I probably never will.

I've lived alone, and with others ranging from a single flatmate to as many as 11.

I lived in a caravan on my landlord's front yard in Taupo. That was cheap and went swimmingly well, if I discount the alcoholic neighbours who had police visits several times a year (sometimes entertaining at Christmas).

There was the poorly insulated extension to a 20s villa in Tauranga which was so cold in August I was warned to go north to family for two weeks or lose some of my life expectancy. The main house had a diesel generator, two fireplaces and a heap pump, all of which cost more than putting insulation under the shrunken floorboards and replacing the rotting ceiling insulation.

The student villa with six per unit was initially a nightmare (head tenant didn't care, another had rage issues, a third never slept and had parties all night long) until I changed units. The new bunch were more professional, except the guy who stole and hoarded my potatoes (I switched to takeout fries).

In other situations, surprisingly, the young couple who argued over half of everything was better than the 'mature' married couple, who fought almost violently at times. My last night there involved a police callout over a domestic, followed by the wife threatening me, sadly.

I've been in CBD Apartments the last two and a half years and am glad to be out. I found the small, hot, cramped 'sardine' flats noisy (both from neighbours and the street) the elevators took forever and few of my neighbours spoke English or understood the law regarding noise, security and neighbour responsibilities.

My last flatmate was also the last straw. They cost me hundreds in arrears due to breaking appliances and refusing to pay to fix them, trashing their bedroom, and other behaviour so serious I have warned my friends to avoid this person.

I've come to look down on agents and property managers mainly for hiding behind legal documents and red tape when a significant issue comes up. Maybe it's a corporate thing. They'd be surprised how much showing some humanity and going the extra mile in good faith would retain good tenants.

Keeping the property in a habitable condition with not too many people wouldn't hurt either. When living in a former office space converted to hostel/apartments I don't think it was a good idea to cram in as many people as possible, then leave us with only one working toilet, a dryer that didn't dry and no ventilation to remove moisture. I still remember a visiting manager standing in a bathroom pointing at the mould encrusted ceiling, and in a thick accent, saying "Why that there?".

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Looking back, all my good landlords were down to earth and decent, treat the property as their own, and respect you are a human being. My good flatmates were amicable, care about others and themselves, mentally stable and value the property as a home.

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